1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Environment, Sustainable Development and Social Change

Salvaging Nature: Indigenous Peoples, Protected Areas and Biodiversity Conservation



The author argues that conservation, which has emerged as a powerful global force dominated by Northern technical institutions, increasingly seeks to limit human activities in biodiversity-rich areas, especially in the South. Mainstream conservationists have sought to impose their culturally-bound vision of natural resource management on indigenous peoples without taking into account their rights under international law or their different priorities and perceptions. Forced relocation, impoverishment, cultural destruction and the undermining of traditional systems of natural resource management have been common results. Conflicts between indigenous peoples and conservation agencies have resulted, making protected areas unmanageable and inoperative. Mainstream conservationists are exercising a political choice to secure the power of the state over local resources at the expense of indigenous political institutions. However, states often lack both the capacity and the political interest to effectively control and manage protected areas. Repressive state agencies often abuse their power in the name of conservation and human rights violations are widespread.
  • Publication and ordering details
  • Pub. Date: 1 Sep 1994
    Pub. Place: Geneva
    ISSN: 1012-6511
    From: UNRISD